Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Page views down 30% - Possible cause home page navigation - WEBSITE STRATEGY

In the last 2 months, I notice a solid drop in page views.

that's a progressive drop which started around first of May.

The only thing important i can think off that I shifted around that time is the navigation on the home page.

instead of listing all topics by categories, I changed it to a directory like structure only showing some of the topics.

with links to products and social icons on both sides.

Could this be the cause for that drop?

It seriously could.

At this stage, that's the only thing I can think off.

Solution would be to shift that back the way it was before which was my first choice anyway.

It means giving people the ability to see EVERYTHING there is on the home page.

The number of visits is more or less steady, what did drop is the number of page views.

Page views/visit went from 3 pages/visit to 2pages/visit.

This could mean that when all links are not in the home page visitors are 30% less likely to click on more links by curiosity.

I'll think about this overnight and might shift this back in the next few days... Need a solid clear answer before I do.

Normally, shifting this back should increase back the traffic over time.

I can see if it works

-----------------

Here is how I interpret this in terms of traffic and navigation.

Probably 90% of those who access the site will spend less than a minute and check 1 to 5 pages

Now, the other 10% who afre the ones who really dig the content are the ones most likely to use the home page easy navigation.

It's these ones that I feel get confused when all links are NOT on the home page.

They will check the home page and don't have the time to figure out where the content is.

If it's not directly easily accessible from the home page, it will make their navigation more complicate + I feel they lose interest way faster.

This is how I explain this 30% page views drop.

Paperback books or not? - STRATEGY

That's a big question and the answer is relatively easy:

When I asked my audience, 95% responded that they like the instant download format for everything!

They often said as well that if there had been a delay for accessing these materials (because they needed to order them by post) they would not have bought the programs.

Instant access / Digital format / Access what you need online any time

That's a very convenient format.

Books?

Books need to be prepared, bought, printed, shipped, etc!

The process is much heavier - You need paper, printers, ink, etc.

Why have a hard copy when the digital format.

I had one of ebooks available as paperback online for close to 2 years now.

result?

Not a single copy was sold as far as I know.

The digital PDF copy on the other hand got around 1000 downloads in the same period - and I am sure that some people probably printed it with their own printer.

My point is that digital is THE way for me.

Should I offer paperback copies as well?

I could but the distributions channels need to be through bookshops.

It's a whole new audience and format.

True, I like having hard copies of my work as well - I like seeing them and having them around - I like as well the idea of giving a copy to a friend if needed.

At this stage, that's a whole new line I could focus on and develop - simply didn't go that way until now because I had other priorities.

Right now, It would take me a month of work to get all ebooks on a print on demand system.

It tested the system - It works

I could as well hire someone to complete this project

The reason why I didn't go that way till now is simply because there hasn't been a real demand for it + I had other priorities.

Another element is that already millions of books exist.

It's a market that feels saturated.

The process for creating, printing and distributing books is much heavier than and the easy and instant ebook format.

Of course, there is the environmental impact but I feel that this not much - I have it in mind but I feel this is not a true deal breaker.

What I notice for myself is that 99% of what I read and the information I access is online, not in a book.

I NEVER buy books anymore. I might buy a magazine a couple of times a year but's about it for the hard copy format.

My guess is that the same applies to a huge fraction of the population.

People used to read books as one of their key ways of accessing information.

Nowadays, this balance has radically shifted and I feel that people spend way more time online than reading books.

It's an open question on my side.

I keep this door open

What's up with PDF's? - WEBSITE STRATEGY

They can work but right now, traffic to PDF's on the site are only a small fraction of the activity.

Videos, audios and articles work way better and are 100x times easier to manage.

PDF's do work however for the $19 programs.

When the ebooks are open, people do access them as well but creating them is not as much fun as recording a video or audio.

here are some stats to help you see what's happening:

overall video views/month (that's all video sites estimates including youtube: 100'000-150'000 views/month
overall audios downloads: 40'000-60'000 downloads/month
over PDF's downloads: around 1000

This is it! Numbers speak by themselves.

Yes, I have many more videos and audios available too of course, this is simply to give you an idea...

 

More free content - what's the impact on the traffic? - WEBSITE STRATEGY

About 3 months ago, parts of the website that were protected got opened to everyone.

This concerns the relationship articles + business articles.

The reason this happened is because protecting content with the new blogger system was impossible, so I shifted that.

This blogs do get very little traffic, so it is not surprising that traffic and page views didn't increase.

The question still remains: what would happen if ALL content was free access including all break up, jealousy and cheating programs?

It's an option that I still keep in the back of my mind.

simply directing visitors to the sign up page when they hit a protected area - does it work? - SELLING STRATEGY

Apparently this does not generate sales.

I tested this for a few months now because I wants to offer just one set of pages rather than sales pages + member pages.

What I did for many pages is remove the sales elements and protect the content that visitors access when they click on links.

These links are ebooks, articles, videos or audios.

Only a small fraction of those who access the site, maybe 5-10% of visitors will hit a protected area as most visitors simply surf through the free content.

This could represent anywhere between 2000-3000 people hitting the "sign up page" each month.

That's not much but results are clear.

This system does NOT sell.

Why?

i think it is simply confusing and annoying for visitors because in their mind, it's either free or fee.

When they access the content, it looks like free but then, realize it's not.

Again, this concerns only a small fraction of the content as 80% of what is available is in free access.

The possibilities are to:

  • keep things as they are
  • Offer more stuff for free
I'll simply keep it the way it is for now and use this system simply to keep on protecting the content.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Website experiments - WEBSITE STRATEGIES

In the last 4 months, I experienced with something that shocks me.

Refreshing the website and shifting platform to wordpress.

After 3 months of experimenting with all that, I decided to stick to what I already had before and simply make some design changes + other simple changes in the presentation.

I realized that shifting everything to wordpress was actually NOT a serious advantage and was changing nothing to the user's experience.

The truth is that both options work. They are both good but none of them is perfect.

The actual redesign of the navigation and making the 6000 pages of content coherent would still have taken me another few weeks of work and other projects were strongly calling.

Here is what I learned:
  • That I have a backup system in place ready just in case - this gives me peace of mind.
  • That working with freelancers is powerful and that the main challenge is finding the right people.
  • I learned a lot about technicalities.
  • I discovered that taking the leap from 80% good to 100% is a huge shift that requires SOLID attention and energy.
I will expand on this last point because I think this exact choice can create failure or success in any business.

For 2 months, I did engage fully my energy into the technical battle to make the new platform work.

I succeeded!

It works!

I would have needed another 2 months to make everything coherent, recreate the sales pages in the new platform, etc.

The reasons why I stopped is because:
  • It was taking too long
  • A user would not even have seen the difference between the old platform and the new one.
  • On my side the level of complexity to manage both types of websites was very similar.
What I was trying to do from the start is PERFECT something that was already ok.

Some improvements took place BUT the quality of the site is still at 80% I feel.

It is close to what it was before.

A visitor would have to dive into it to really see changes. Most people will notice NOTHING except a few minor design changes.

My point is that this target of 100% perfection was NOT reached.

I tried but it stayed close to what it was before.

Now, this exact point is a VERY strategic choice because these 2 months that I invested pursuing perfection could have been spent in a whole variety of things.

Yes, updates were necessary and I didn't know this fact before I started.

Now that I went deep into it, I see that what I was trying to do was the equivalent of changing a shop's location from one place to another without real benefits.

So, I don't have to do it again!

In the future when confronted with the same call to head to 100% perfection, I don't need to respond.

Good is ALWAYS good enough!

The energy it takes to head to 100% is far too high.

It is stressful and super demanding!

In fact I did have a feeling about this before starting!

One of my key stress free strategies says "Aim for good, not perfect!"

I still agree with that and this effectiveness law has been reinforced in me even stronger!

This doesn't need to be applied just to website design, you can apply it to ANYTHING!

From nutrition strategies, choosing a place to live to writing a book.

It is all the same!

Perfection is NOT needed!

It needs to work of course!

The basics must be there!

It must be good at 80%.

The remaining 20% to reach perfection are NOT needed.

I will remember that when making strategic choices in the future.